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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

There is one set of laws for Sports figures and another set of laws for the rest of us

Tillman gets absolute discharge in sex assault case


Saskatchewan Roughriders (of  the Canadian Football League) general manager Eric Tillman received an absolute discharge Tuesday after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting his children's teenage babysitter.
Tillman pleaded guilty to a single sexual assault charge Monday in connection with an incident that occurred in his home in August 2008.
Judge Murray Hinds told a Regina courtroom Tuesday he believed Tillman was "genuinely remorseful" for his behaviour.
"In this case there's no suggestion that Mr. Tillman is not generally of good character," Hinds said. 

(No suggestion?? Come on judge!)

"He has no prior criminal record. His behavior towards (the teenage girl) on Aug. 6 appears to be an aberration fueled by his consumption of two non-prescription drugs, which he used for sleep and pain relief."
The judge's decision means Tillman is still guilty, but he will not have a criminal record and will not have to meet any sentencing conditions. 


How can a judge make such a ruling? Tillman apparently gets to live within a different  set of laws than the rest of  the males in Canadian society! I take medication for pain relief and also to enable me to sleep every day ,and I have never had aberrations like Tillman had! The fact that Tillman is a professional sports figure and the fact that he will have no criminal record, well, to me after reading countless news articles about pro athletes getting discharges for committing criminal offenses, is not a coincidence! To me it seems people involved in sports seem to  get to ascribe to a lower standard of criminal law than the rest of us in this society (or these individuals seem to be above the law!).

 The judge made no mention at all of the girl victimized by Tillman.What about her future needs relating to counselling and help to deal with this trauma? As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I want to suggest to Judge Murray Hinds and to this girl's lawer that they provide all of the government resources that this girl's doctors suggest she can benefit from, or else she is going to be affected by Tillman's  "aberrations" for the rest of her life!

According to the article: "

"Off-court misbehavior: sports leagues and private punishment."(Symposium: Essays on the Intersection of Professional Sports and the Criminal Law )

 " Hardly a day goes by without news of misbehavior by a professional athlete. In the month of February 2009, for example, the media reported such misbehavior on at least twenty-two out of twenty-eight days. (1) Often, such misconduct involves criminal behavior by an athlete that occurs off the athletic field or court."


As stated in an  essay:

"any other critics of the emphasis of sports in American youth are concerned not only with the structure of sports, but the negative stereotypes that many professional athletes portray. Professional athletes directly affect other sports programs. Many professional athletes are perfect examples of the influence and dangers of competition. Many professionals walk around with an aura of superiority. Their self-centeredness and egos derived from competition force them into a "win at-all-cost" mentality. Mike Tyson bit an ear of an opponent, while John Macenroe screams, cusses, and is disrespectful of the linesman at every point. If sports teach children to lose gracefully, what message do these actions send? Karl Malone warns professional athletes that they are in the spot light whether they like it or not. They need to understand that their behavior influences youth a great deal. Parents also need to teach children the difference between respecting and idolizing an individual for his/her athletic ability."

 "Fred Engh, the president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, feels that poor role models in professional sports are making child athletes more aggressive and violent. 80% of student athletes felt that intimidation is acceptable in a game. There is report after report of students injuring one another in practice and in games. This introduction of increasing violence in an already questionable structure of youth sports adds even more questions and doubt to critics."

"The controversies involved in the effects of sports on youth are very important due to the ever-expanding number of participants and programs. It is also important because sports programs are used in community and government projects to deter bad behavior and protect at risk youth. Over three hundred studies have been reviewed that suggest participation in sports produces positive effects to at risk youth. Researchers found an increase in self worth and self esteem, while boredom, delinquent behavior, and hopelessness decreased. However, the effects were short term. A study by Alan Colthart found that at risk youth did participate in fewer recreational activities than non-at-risk-children. One cannot conclude that sports prevent students from being at risk, but that at risk children actually have less opportunity to participate. It actually reiterates the views of the critics of sports and introduces several more factors."

"Some at risk youth can identify with many professional athletes. Many at risk youth have no familial structure or models of success in their life. Athletes serve a purpose for them. They gain a sense of hope. Athletes like Karl Malone enjoy this status they receive. He feels that children often stay in school or do not use drugs as a result of their positive perception of a particular athlete. This reiterates the importance of positive role models in sports. However, it is hard to control which athletes these youth look up to. These same at risk youth may identify with Mike Tyson better than Michael Jordan. This would reinforce his/ her bad behavior. The influence of athletes is nonnegotiable-they are in the limelight whether they like it or not. The programs for at risk youth can attempt to bring more attention to the positive professional athletes, but it will be a hard battle to be won if professional athletes do not accept the responsibility of proper behavior."

"Individuals can criticize organized sports as an industry and as a part of American youth culture, but it will not stop Little League from happening or NBA teams from playing on National television. Organizations, professionals, and psychologists need to reinforce some changes to the structure of the programs. State legislation has passed laws protecting referees from assault and sports parenting books are hitting the, market. Rick Wolff, an author, has noted that many leagues are requiring parents to take sportsmanship classes and enacting gag orders to the sidelines. It is hoped that by teaching manners and ethics of sportsmanship that this will trickle down to the children."


I think it is time that athletes and sports administrations are forced to act within the criminal law system of  the country they are within. Why should an innocent girl have to deal with all the trauma and pain associated with sexual abuse, because of the selfish and narcissistic actions of someone like Tillman? How can we exist in a country such as Canada where a  judge decides that Tillman is guilty of a crime  yet in the same breathe also decide that Tillman is  not criminally responsible for his actions? (If he did so based upon the existing laws which exist within Canadian society, then I believe it is evident that the laws in Canada need to be changed!)

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.